On Thursday, Pope Francis told participants of the Plenary Assembly for the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue of the need for friendship and respect among people of different faiths.
"I apologize for the delay. I am late for the audience, and I apologize. Thank you for your patience.”
Upon arrival, a tired-sounding Pope began talking about how migration and other modern factors are making the world smaller place, and creating more interaction from people of different backgrounds. In that context, he said dialogue is more important than ever.
"In effect, there is no shortage in the world, of contexts in which coexistence is difficult. Often, political or economic motives overlap with cultural and religious differences, leveraging over misunderstandings and errors of the past. It all risks causing divisions and fear. There is only one path to overcome this fear, and that is dialogue, an encounter based on friendship and respect.”
The Pope added that dialogue doesn't mean forsaking a Christian identity, but rather it enhances it. Taking a cue from his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, he called on Christians to share the joys of their faith with other religions. Not to impose it on them, but to build an "authentic relationship.”
He also explained that inter-religious dialogue can help fight against secularization, and push for greater religious freedom. The future, he said, is in the "respectful coexistence of diversity,” and not in muting the different voices of religion.